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Why Is Everyone Talking About Webhooks?

Why Is Everyone Talking About Webhooks?

Adrian Ochmann • Back-end Developer

from Cogworks • 06 Jun 2024 • 1 min read

What are webhooks

Websites are dynamic “hubs,” and microservices are the building blocks of modern applications, helping brands stay connected and updated in real time. This is where APIs and, now, Webhooks come in. But why is everyone talking about them?

Imagine this scenario: 

You publish a new article on your Umbraco-powered website. Traditionally, notifying other systems about this update would involve custom code, complex integrations, and developer time. Introducing webhooks:

Webhooks simplify things. In the above scenario, a webhook provides a direct channel for Umbraco to communicate with external services without writing extensive code. Whether it’s notifying a CRM system, triggering an email campaign, or updating an analytics dashboard, webhooks make it happen seamlessly.

Understanding APIs

APIs serve as bridges between different software applications, allowing them to communicate and interact with each other. They define the methods and protocols through which various software components can interact. 

When you talk about an API in development, you’ll come across the word "endpoint". An endpoint is (basically) a specific URL or route within an API that represents the API's different functionalities or resources. 

Endpoints are where clients can send requests to access or manipulate data. While endpoints are a fundamental part of an API, they are not itself an API. 

Webhooks and APIs. What’s the difference?

Webhooks are real-time notifications that automatically trigger actions in one application when something happens in another. APIs connect software applications, while webhooks trigger real-time actions based on specific events, streamlining communication.

Webhooks send immediate notifications when something happens, making them more efficient than APIs alone, which require constant checking for updates.

For developers, using Webhooks can mean less time wasted waiting for updates and quicker responses to essential events. This allows teams to respond promptly to changes and ensure their apps are always up-to-date.

Technically speaking, webhooks facilitate real-time notifications by sending HTTP POST requests to specific URLs whenever a predefined event occurs, ramping up development efficiency!

When should I use webhooks?

There are loads of ways you can use webhooks day-to-day across all types of projects and platforms:

Webhooks offer diverse capabilities:

- Real-time notifications, like instant alerts on social media platforms.

- Workflow automation by triggering actions based on specific events, such as inventory updates in e-commerce systems.

- Integration with third-party services for seamless platform communication, like syncing project tasks with team messaging tools.

- Real-time interactions in web application development, such as delivering chat messages instantly without manual refreshing.

- Triggering actions based on sensor data in IoT applications, enhancing automation and responsiveness.

Umbraco 13 with Webhooks feature

Umbraco 13 now uses webhooks. These lightweight, HTTP-based notifications allow seamless integration with third-party systems. In the backoffice, you can define an event and specify an endpoint where the desired event data will be sent. 

You can introduce more Webhook events by enabling them in the project configuration. For more details on Umbraco Webhooks, visit the 

Introducing messages buses

While webhooks offer real-time communication by pushing data to applications as events occur, message buses provide a more structured approach to asynchronous communication between different system components.

Message buses ensure that different system parts can reliably send and receive messages, even if there are system failures or network issues. They support different ways components communicate and help create flexible and scalable systems.

Choosing the right tool

Communication tools like APIs, webhooks, and message buses present their own set of advantages and limitations tailored to address distinct challenges.

  • APIs: The bridges between applications! They offer structured interfaces for accessing functionalities and resources, making them ideal for diverse integration scenarios.

  • Webhooks: Designed for real-time notifications and event-driven communication, eliminating constant polling and enhancing efficiency and timeliness in data exchange!

  • Message Buses: A structured approach to asynchronous communication, message buses provide centralised channels for publishing and subscribing to messages. They ensure reliable delivery, even in the face of system failures, supporting complex communication patterns and enabling decoupled and scalable architecture.

The perfect combination?

APIs, webhooks, and message buses are essential for connecting applications.

When used harmoniously, APIs offer structured communication, webhooks provide instant notifications, and message buses ensure smooth asynchronous interaction. 

Understanding these tools is necessary to select the appropriate one for various integration needs. 

What do you use for your integrations? Let me know. You can also write your personal take as a blog for Innerworks. Adrian.

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